Video: Fred Clark’s Testimony to the NRB on the 2023 Wolf Management Plan
WI Green Fire, October 26, 2023
On October 25th, WGF’s Executive Director, Fred Clark, spoke to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) on behalf of Green Fire members. Fred’s testimony urges the Board to approve the 2023 Wolf Management Plan submitted by the Department of Natural Resources. WGF’s focus is on science-based adaptive management for Wisconsin’s gray wolves.
At the end of this meeting, the NRB voted to approve the 2023 Wolf Management Plan!
Chairman Smith: Next appearance in person Fred Clark from Bayfield, Wisconsin’s Green Fire. Welcome Fred.
Fred Clark: Yea thank you Chairman Smith and good morning members of the Natural Resources Board. I’m Fred Clark, Executive Director of Wisconsin’s Green Fire. We’re a statewide organization committed to science and natural resources conservation. Also, I’m a neighbor of Pat Quaintance and Pat I’d love to get out with you sometime and look at deer and look at wolves and understand some of your experience. For those of you who are new to the Natural Resources Board today, thank you and congratulations on your appointment. Please know that the vast majority of Wisconsin citizens applaud and congratulate you on your public service.
I’m speaking today on behalf of Green Fire and our members who include a number of dedicated career wildlife biologists including some who participated in the creation of the 1999 wolf management plan including members who contributed as stakeholder advisors to the current draft wolf management plan that you are considering today and who have spent their careers on wolf conservation and management in this state and in this region.
I also want to thank Randy Johnson and the staff at DNR who have worked really hard to assimilate a large amount of new information, listen to input from around the state in developing this plan and Secretary Payne we want to thank you for your leadership moving this department forward on this and other tough issues. And I think the demonstration you have set of leadership in this agency is an important one.
In support of the plan, I’ll just make a couple of comments. We believe in the focus on ecological benefits of wolves, while balancing a recovered population and the need to reduce and manage potential conflicts and cultural concerns with respect for our tribal neighbors, respect for the needs and interests and legitimate concerns of people in wolf range and believe this plan strikes an appropriate balance and creates an adaptive management framework that’s flexible and will allow the right tools in the right places going forward.
We believe the new configuration of zones addresses a significant problem that was reflected in the 2021 harvest in which most of the hunting activity occurred in core wolf habitats and range that had little to no impact on wildlife and and wolf-livestock conflicts, which is the major concern that many people have around this issue. To point to that if you look at depredation data in the five years prior to the 2021 harvest, depredation numbers of livestock averaged around 26, 27, 28 per year. The year after the 2021 wolf harvest the number jumped to the second highest number that’s ever been recorded since wolves have come back to this state.
We believe the 350 goal while you’ll hear a lot about it today whether it was a cap or whether it was a management goal or whether it was a ceiling, it’s an irrelevant conversation. We have 24 years of new information and new data, new experience. That’s what’s in front of you all today. I think the staff have given you the opportunity to address that.
Finally, I know my time is up, I’ll just say that we need to recognize that hunting alone will not by itself address the concerns of human-wolf conflict. This plan brings all the tools to the table to help make that happen including lethal controls and other support for livestock producers. The only way those tools are available to us is when wolves are delisted. Having a conservation oriented sustainable management plan will be the best way Wisconsin can assure that delisting is a durable proposition and not another loop on the rollercoaster of listing and delisting that we’ve experienced in the last 20 years.
Chairman Smith: Thank you Fred. Any questions from the board? Thank you.
Fred Clark: Thank you all.